What do you think of this?


After a self-imposed period of reflective meditation in the wilderness (i.e. too absolutely flat chat to even think about posting), I’m back. But not, alas, to say anything profound. I’m after some advice.

I’ve been working on the text of a ‘Christmas tract’ that we (i.e. Matthias Media) are hoping to publish by early November. It’s something for congregations to use in Christmas evangelism, to hand out at Christmas services, to use in Christmas letter-box drops, and so on. When we’ve done this in the past (and we’ve done it most years recently), we’ve tended to have a fairly strong Christmas theme to the tract: bouncing off a Christmas carol, or focusing on the birth of babies, and so on.

This time, I’m thinking of trying something a little different. And I’m after some feedback. Do you think it works? More particularly, does it work as something to hand out over the Christmas season when the name ‘Jesus’ creeps back into our popular culture however briefly. Any suggestions on how to improve it? So without further ado …

The Other Jesus

It’s that time of year again when our society takes a moment to remember the birth of Jesus. Amidst the shopping and the eating and the squabbling in the family, most people will acknowledge in some way that Jesus is the ‘reason for the season’.

But if you ask people today what they think of Jesus, you’ll hear a wide variety of opinions. “He was a great moral teacher”, “the best man who ever lived”, “a spiritual master”, or something similar. The view of most people is that Jesus was an extraordinary man, a man of great love and compassion, a man of wisdom and spiritual insight.

And this is quite true. The Jesus we meet in the Gospels is all those things, and many of his teachings have become part of our language and culture—things like “seek and you will find”; or “do unto others what you would have them do unto you”; “turn the other cheek”; and “love your enemies”.

But there is another side to Jesus that most people don’t know, usually because they haven’t ever gotten around to reading one of the accounts of his life (or ‘Gospels’) for themselves. This ‘other Jesus’ that we find in the Gospels is not the gentle Jesus meek and mild that we remember from Sunday School. He’s an outrageous Jesus—a Jesus who upsets people, makes grandiose claims about himself, and seems to think he is the answer to the world’s problems.

In this short article, I want to introduce you to this ‘other Jesus’ by looking at one of the most outrageous things he ever said. In fact, you may find it so outrageous that you will never be able to think about Jesus in quite the same way again.

Towards the end of his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said this:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’
Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew chapter 7, verses 21-23)

There are so many mind-boggling things in these few words, it’s hard to know where to begin.

For example, did you notice that Jesus says that the God who lives in heaven, the God of everything, is his own Father? And he says that only those who “do the will of my Father” will get into the kingdom of heaven.

That’s a big claim. To say that God is your own Father is to say that you are the ‘Son of God’. If someone today goes around saying that they are God’s own Son, we tend to put them on medication. But that’s what Jesus casually says here.

But there’s something even more outrageous.

Jesus says that there will come a day when people stand before God and either enter his kingdom or don’t. And on that day, he will be the one making the decision. People will come to him and say, “Lord, Lord didn’t we do these great things in your name”. And Jesus will say to them, “Go away, I never knew you.”

What sort of person is this? Who thinks that he is the Son of God, and that he is the one who will decide everyone’s eternal destiny. Who does he think he is?

This doesn’t sound like the gentle Jesus who taught noble truths and basically just wanted everyone to be nice to each other. In this saying, he’s clearly claiming to be far more than that.

And it only gets worse.

Jesus not only claims to be the Son of God, and he not only says that he will be Lord and judge of everyone, he also says that whether or not you get into God’s kingdom will depend on whether or not you are in his good books. It will depend on whether or not he knows you.

That’s in fact the point of the saying—that there will be people who have done great works in Jesus’ name, even great spiritual or religious deeds like prophesying and doing miracles, but on the day of reckoning Jesus will say to them: “I don’t know you. Go away.”

This is extraordinary. Very religious people who try really hard to do noticeable religious things won’t necessarily get in, says Jesus. Somehow you’ve got to be known and recognized by Jesus—to be on the ‘inside’ with Jesus—in order to enter the kingdom of heaven.

This is in fact what Jesus says repeatedly in his teaching. The only way to get into God’s kingdom is to do what God himself really wants you to do—and the very first and most important thing that God wants you to do is know and trust his own Son, whom he has sent into the world: Jesus. The only way to be part of God’s kingdom is to be on Jesus’ team; to be known by Jesus as one of his own.

Do you know Jesus like that?

Or more to the point: Does he know you? When it comes that great day, will he say, “Oh it’s OK. He’s one of mine. I know him. He belongs with me”?
If you are not known by this Jesus—the real Jesus—then there’s no way into heaven, no matter how hard you try.


Perhaps the ‘other Jesus’ you’ve met in this brief article is a stranger to you. Perhaps you’ve never taken the time to get to know him.

If so, then it’s probably time you did something about it, because your eternal destiny depends entirely upon him.

The simplest and best way to begin is to read one of the Gospels of Jesus; to find out for yourself if what I’ve been saying about him in this article is true.

To download or purchase a fresh translation of the Gospel of Luke, go to …

So what do you think?

15 thoughts on “What do you think of this?

  1. I think it is a good tract. I would change just some minor things. The word grandiose has a negative connotation, like someone is delusional. You probably don’t want to make Jesus appear like that. I also think that you should add that Jesus Christ proved the reality of His words and identity by raising up from the dead.

    I don’t think it is too long. Reason being too many people are not even biblically literate enough to know the first thing about Jesus. this brings me to a question: who are you trying to reach? This tract as it is would be great for people who think they are going to heaven – professing Christians and other religious people. If you are trying to reach a wider group (including the non-religious), I would include a nutshell gospel in the text, and not assume the reader is familiar with any biblical words or truth.

  2. *Like*

    Send me over a few hundred and I’ll field test them for you. FREE of Charge wink

    seriously, like the idea of being a little less “christmasy”.
    other than the 1st sentence (re “birth”) and what illustration you include on the cover it could be useful for Easter or general inclusion in a visitors pack.


  3. I like the title which suggests at the outset that one’s been missing out on the real deal.

    I agree it’s a bit too long (but only slightly). What to cut out?

    It seems aimed at the religious churchgoer (esp. in mainline liberal churches here in the U.S.) versus someone who rarely thinks about Jesus at all and didn’t grow up in church (which is becoming an ever increasing reality).

    “Oh it’s OK. He’s one of mine. I know him. He belongs with me.” I agree with Josh that it could be interpreted casually. But reading it in its context you qualify Jesus’ words by first asking, “Does he know you?” (which makes it less blase.)

    The latter part has echoes of Packer’s Knowing God. I believe it was in a chapter titled Sons of God where he suggests that the greater truth is not that we know God, but that He knows us. Great chapter.

    Finally, I don’t know the availability of Christmas tracts in Australia, but here in the U.S. many publishers roll out new ones every year (which isn’t to say they’re all worth publishing!). The demand for such a tract may be higher in Australia (although we can always use more winsome, substantive tracts).

  4. I agree with most of the comments made so far. However, as a regular Easter and Christmas Matthias Media Tract giver over the last few years, I think this tract lacks one element that I have appreciated in some of the tracts I have used most – e.g. A Breathtaking Moment, Famous Last Words & Bethlehem’s Got Talent.  That is, it lacks the Current or Popular topic/event of interest introduction that these other tracts have provided to capture the interest of the reader.

    I think this would be easy and helpful to add to your current draft tract. The topic you have raised is along the lines of seeing the other side of a person – Almost Jeckyl and Hyde, if you like.  One such illustration that springs to my mind that I think would draw in the reader would be something like Kel Richard’s explanation of Mrs Caroline Grills from his book ‘Journey Towards God’ on p97. This woman appeared to be a nice little of granny to most people who knew her but turned out to be a mass murderer!  Not a mistake you want to make about a person – could mean the difference between life and death – like Jesus!

    Hope this comment helps.

    Love your work, Tony.


  5. Hi,

    I really like this approach. It reminds me of John Stott’s book Christ the Controversialist, which showed how Jesus overturned so many of our ideas about God and the world!

    However, as it stands, this is quite long and there are a lot of tangents before it gets to the main point – I don’t think you can afford that today, when we are used to Tweets and bite-sized commentary. On top of that, the introduction doesn’t grab the reader: “Here we are at Christmas again. Nothing to see here.”

    It picks up, with something surprising, in the fourth paragraph – perhaps that’s a better place to start? Something like:

    “You might think you know about Jesus. But I am willing to bet that you have got him wrong – even if you go to church.”

    Then you can work in a reference to Christmas, and hit them with that passage – which is quite scary for everyone, whether they’re Christians or not!

  6. I like the aim of this, assuming I’ve understood it correctly.

    It seems to be saying, ‘Let’s look at some of the non-Christmassy and, frankly, confronting things about Jesus.’

    If that’s right, my observation is that you might need to get there more quickly, to grab the throat as soon as possible. It’s paragraph four before we get to ‘But there’s another side …’ Can you hint at it up front?

    Eg “There’s the Christmas Jesus we hear each year. But there’s also the shadowy Jesus who finds it hard to get a look in. And they’re the same Jesus!

    “We know …
    “But …”

    You know what I mean?

  7. Thanks for the ideas, everyone. Really useful. I can already see several ways to improve it.

  8. It’s got lots of good things in it, but I can’t imagine giving it to my non-Christian friends and family.  Maybe it’s the Melbourne perspective, where Christianity barely registers in the public mind; I’d prefer something more intruiging, less confrontational.  And yes I know I’m a wimp.

  9. I just read the passage again. For me the phrase that stood out was “you who practise lawlessness.” One of the major parties is promising “safer suburbs.” Plus there is a real sense of being fed up with hypocrisy and corruption in high places. Maybe something about belonging to Jesus means you have His law written on your heart? Good to get people thinking about the Law.
    I read the blessings and curses in Deut 28 to my high school scripture class a few weeks ago. It had a profound effect. We needn’t be afraid of refering to the law, especially when people are living in fear of lawlessness on the street, in the boardroom and in government.

  10. I liked it and would use it.
    But it was the 5th paragraph that I really tuned in – I thought you were talking to us before that, I didn’t realise at first it was all part of the tract – so maybe unnecessary bits in the first 4 paragraphs.

    It seems small but I think “it’s probably time ” has a superior or distant sound , could you use

    “maybe its time” ? More like the suggestion of a kind friend.

    As I am wanting to give it to friends, that is how I would want to sound to the friends I would give it to.

    And I would want to sound kindly – even in the anonymous letter-box situation.

    So..smashing through the junky ideas, but in a kindly way. sounds good.

  11. More great comments. I think the common thread is that it needs to get to the point much more quickly at the beginning. I completely agree.

    Here’s my rewrite of the opening paragraphs:


    It’s that time of year again when our society takes a moment to remember the birth of Jesus.

    Mind you, the Jesus we remember tends to be the stereotyped, airbrushed Jesus of popular culture—the baby Jesus lying cute but harmless in a manger; or the gentle Jesus who walked the hills of Palestine and taught noble spiritual truths.

    But there is another side to Jesus that most people don’t know about. When we read the biographies of Jesus’ life (or ‘Gospels’), we discover a Jesus who is much more interesting, and more outrageous. This Jesus physically drives religious hypocrites out of the Jewish temple. He upsets people and divides families. He makes sweeping claims about himself and seems to think he is the answer to the world’s problems.

    In this short article, I want to introduce you to this ‘other Jesus’ by looking at one of the most outrageous things he ever said. In fact, I’m willing to bet that after reading these words and thinking about their meaning, you will never be able to think about Jesus in the same way again …




  12. Tony,

    I’d just add that if it’s to be a Christmas tract, then it would be good to reference Christmas again in the conclusion.

    It could be as simple as adding the words, “This Christmas, ask yourself, “Do you know Jesus like that.”

    It could be something along the lines of, “It’s hard to imagine that going to church or singing a few Christmas carols once a year is any substitute for a personal relationship with Jesus”, although my wording is clunky here.

    I just think it’s good to bring a Christmas tract back to the occasion (even if in a subversive way) at the conclusion as well as the start.

  13. Tony,
    The tract is looking great!  I also wanted to say that I appreciate your humility in opening things up for discussion in this format. Anyone (including someone who never shares Christ!) could respond and you still did it, leaving ego at the door, trying to make the tract.  Thanks for the Christlike example.


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